STUDENT WRITERS: Negative Effects of Toxic Masculinity

STUDENT WRITERS PROGRAM
This week featuring: ERSKINE ACADEMY

by Adam Oches
(from Vassalboro, Maine)

The negative effects of various media like television and movies on women and young girls have rightfully been shown time and again. The negative effects on men from these same forms of media is a much lesser known, but no less real, phenomenon. Media is filled with images of unrealistic body standards and the glorification of unhealthy behaviors. Media has negative effects on men that greatly damage the self-image of males in today’s society.

Many movies and television shows with male leads often have men with very muscular bodies on camera consistently. Action heroes such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chris Hemsworth, and Hugh Jackman are all well known for their muscular definition and physical fitness. The average movie male lead has a level of fitness that requires the strict regimentation of diet and exercise that the majority of people will be unable to achieve. These unrealistic standards that require these measures are already a problem, but the superhero look has another problem to it. It is unsustainable.

In preparation for shirtless scenes in the show The Witcher, Henry Cavill had to dehydrate himself for multiple days in order to attain the look wanted for the scene. Bodybuilders, like the aforementioned Schwarzenegger, dehydrate themselves to reduce their fat percentage. This practice is lethal if sustained for any kind of long period of time. It even has the high possibility of being fatal in a short period of time. In 1992, professional bodybuilder Mohammed Benaziza died after competing in a contest from dehydration-induced heart failure.

Stoicism is a philosophy originating with the ancient Greeks. It advocates for mastery of the self through the control of one’s emotions. This idea is not inherently harmful, however it can quickly lead to repressed emotions and the effects those have on mental health. This philosophy has embedded itself into our society’s ideal man. In various action movies, the main character does not cry. He does not show grief. His emotions are kept to himself and are not shown to the outside world.

Since these strong, manly men do not cry; crying must be a sign of weakness. Any sign of sadness is to be shunned and kept in the dark for fear of being exposed as a weaker, lesser man. Society has convinced itself that in order to be a man, they must face all challenges and hardships without showing pain or asking for help. Our media has perpetuated this idea. Its effects are very clear. Young men face pain alone and are afraid to ask for help to alleviate some of their pain. This can lead to the abuse of chemicals like alcohol, a negative self-image, and in the worst of cases, suicide.

In conclusion, the media we consume in our daily lives has had negative impacts on the wellbeing of generations of young men. Too often is the issue of the media’s portrayal of people seen as based on sex. This is not a women’s issue or a men’s issue; it is a people issue. Media has affected both sexes negatively. The problem with media is not its portrayal of women or men, it is with people in general.

Student Writer’s Program: What Is It?

The Town Line has many articles from local students under the heading of the “Student Writer’s Program.” While it may seem plainly evident why The Town Line would pursue this program with local schools and students, we think it’s worth the time to highlight the reasons why we enthusiastically support this endeavor.

Up front, the program is meant to offer students who have a love of writing a venue where they can be published and read in their community. We have specifically not provided topics for the students to write on or about, and we have left the editing largely up to their teachers. From our perspective this is a free form space provided to students.

From the perspective of the community, what is the benefit? When considering any piece that should or could be published, this is a question we often ask ourselves at The Town Line. The benefit is that we as community are given a glimpse into how our students see the world, what concerns them, and, maybe even possible solutions to our pressing problems. Our fundamental mission at the paper is to help us all better understand and appreciate our community, our state, and our nation through journalism and print.

We hope you will read these articles with as much interest and enjoyment as we do. The students are giving us a rare opportunity to hear them out, to peer into their world, and see how they are processing this world we, as adults, are giving them.

To include your high school, contact The Town Line, townline@townline.org.

VBA ice fishing derby set for Feb. 7

Vassalboro Business Association’s annual ice fishing derby and raffle will be held at the Olde Mill, at 934 Main St., on Sunday, February 7, 2021, in all Maine legal waters.

Masks are required and social distancing will be practiced.

The weigh-in will take place from 1 – 5 p.m. Tickets for fishing entries must be purchased before 1 p.m., on February 7.

First ($40), second ($20), and third place ($10) cash prizes will be awarded for salmon, togue, brown trout, brook trout, white perch, splake, pickerel, pike, largemouth bass, black crappie, smallmouth bass and the children’s category.

Children who participate will also earn special prizes (trophies/hats).

A $100 cash prize and trophy will be awarded for the largest fish (except pike). There are thousands of dollars in raffle prizes!

Drawing for prizes will begin at 5 p.m., on Derby Day, winners will be called ASAP! You do not have to be present to win the raffle. As a matter of fact, in this Covid-19 outbreak time, it is preferred you didn’t come!

One fish entry per ticket. Donation: $1.00/ticket (6 for $5)

All proceeds benefit VBA efforts!

Tickets may be purchased from Maine Savings FCU, Fieldstone Quikstop, Renarda’s Kitchen, 201 Tire & Battery, the Vassalboro Library, Freddies Service Center, the Olde Mill Store, and from Ray Breton, Jim Maloy, or Bernie Fortin. Call 207-631-3303 for more information.

Selectmen act on preliminary review of revised marijuana ordinance

by Mary Grow

At a well-attended virtual meeting Jan. 7, Vassalboro selectmen did a preliminary review of a thoroughly revised town marijuana ordinance; followed up with the second of two major road projects; and discussed issues raised by Conservation Committee members.

They are asking for more comments on the draft Marijuana Ordinance, to be submitted by Friday, Jan. 15 (the town office is open from 8 a.m. to noon on Fridays) so board members can review them before their Jan. 21 meeting. Town Manager Mary Sabins offered her email address to receive comments, msabins@vassalboro.net.

The proposed ordinance is available on the Vassalboro website, www.vassalboro.net. In the right-hand column, the second paragraph under the heading “Selectmen’s Meeting” provides a place to click to read it.

The short 2017 “Ordinance Prohibiting Retail Marijuana Establishments” is also on the town website under “Ordinances/Policies” in the left-hand column. It will be repealed if voters approve the new ordinance.

Parts of the draft reviewed Jan. 7, prepared by town attorney Kristin Collins, are essential to bring Vassalboro regulations into conformity with state laws, Collins said. The laws and corresponding state regulations have changed significantly since 2017, and regulations continue to change.

The draft allows medical marijuana facilities, as state law requires. It bans retail marijuana stores. Other facilities, like growing operations, require town licenses. Licensing procedures are spelled out in detail.

Filling what planning board member Douglas Phillips considers a gap in current regulations, the draft ordinance specifies that when someone applies for a permit for a building with intent to lease spaces to grow marijuana inside it (like Leo Barnett’s existing and recently approved operations), both the building owner and each individual medical marijuana caregiver who leases space must obtain a town license.

The ordinance also requires building security, odor control and other measures recommended by the residents of the Sherwood Lane subdivision near which Barnett’s newest growing buildings have been approved.

Selectmen made no decisions on ordinance provisions pending review of comments received by Jan. 15.

Selectman Barbara Redmond asked whether the town could impose a moratorium on licenses while the ordinance is debated. Collins said a moratorium needs approval by town voters; the selectmen cannot create one.

Vassalboro’s annual town meeting is normally held in June. Sabins said a special town meeting would require a quorum of 125 registered voters.

Sherwood Lane residents also queried possible amendments to the town’s subdivision ordinance. Collins recommended the marijuana ordinance not try to include subdivision regulations. The subdivision ordinance is under the planning board’s jurisdiction.

Turning to the planned replacement of a large culvert on Gray Road, selectmen authorized Eric Calderwood, of Calderwood Engineering, of Richmond, to negotiate with Nitram Excavation and General Contractors, of Benton, lowest of five bidders on the project.

Nitram’s bid was $294,758, plus $100 per cubic yard for the crushed stone needed due to soft soil above bedrock. No other bid was under $300,000.

Board Chairman John Melrose reminded the audience the town has a $95,000 Department of Environmental Protection grant toward the cost. Sabins expects more than $27,000 to be left over from the Cross Hill Road culvert, money that could be reallocated to the Gray Road work.

Timing might be an issue. As with the Cross Hill Road project, instream work must be done between July 14 and Sept. 30, Calderwood said. If the precast culvert is not ordered soon, before town meeting voters can act on the request for money for the project, it might not be available for the summer of 2021.

Since the existing culvert is failing, Melrose said the alternative to replacement is closing Gray Road.

Four Conservation Commission members recommended three different projects.

Christopher French and Betsy Poulin are looking for environmental benefits and cost savings as part of pending transfer station rearrangements. A specific suggestion was to add composting. Instead of giving the town transfer station staff another job, they suggested contracting with ScrapDogs Community Compost, a Rockland-based firm that, for a fee, collects and composts food waste for individuals, businesses, organizations and municipalities.

ScrapDogs works primarily with coastal towns so far, but the owners want to expand to the Augusta-Waterville area, Poulin said. She suggested Vassalboro residents could leave food waste at the transfer station where ScrapDogs would pick it up.

Sabins said Vassalboro’s contract with the Maine Energy Recovery Company (MERC) requires the town provide a minimum amount of trash each year. Currently, the Hampden facility that reprocessed waste into useful forms is closed and trash is being landfilled, but she expects a new owner will take over later this spring.

If a local food waste program were successful, Vassalboro might fail to meet its contract and have to pay MERC’s successor for waste not sent, she said. She therefore recommended postponing action until the Hampden situation is resolved.

Holly Weidner wanted selectmen to act on a resolution proposing nation-wide fees on carbon emitters, an idea she said has been around since the 1980s. After an inconclusive discussion of a selectboard resolution or a town meeting resolution, to be sent to state or national representatives or both, no action was taken.

Steve Jones wanted to explore ways to restore the plunge pool that housed native brook trout before the Cross Hill Road culvert was replaced. The work apparently blocked or diverted the spring that fed the cold-water pool; the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife relocated half a dozen fish.

Selectmen discussed costs of getting permits and doing the work, with a license cost of $100,000 being mentioned. Selectman Robert Browne was appalled: “Six fish for $100,000? I’m not seeing the value there.”

Selectmen will explore if, as Jones suggested, an IF&W employee would do the permitting process for free and if the town crew could do the necessary work.

In other business Jan. 7:

  • Selectmen unanimously appointed Peggy Horner to the Conservation Commission and Paul Mitnik to the Trails Committee.
  • They reappointed Cathy Coyne registrar of voters, an annual action as the registrar’s term ends Dec. 31 each year.

Melrose announced three items for a future agenda: consideration of annual Spirit of America awards, a request from library trustees to discuss library ownership and a request from Road Commissioner Eugene Field to compare town and school employees’ wages and benefits.

The next regular Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21.

Vassalboro planners hear intro to another solar development

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro Planning Board members heard an introduction to another proposed solar development, by entities who have not previously worked in the town, at the Jan. 5 planning board meeting.

New England Solar Garden. of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was represented by Michael Redding. Sebago Technics, of South Portland, was represented by Owens McCullough. Sebago Technics is a civil engineering and land development consultant firm that works with developers like Solar Garden; Solar Garden specializes in community solar development.

Redding explained that the project will be on almost 30 acres of leased land. The land is on the west side of Cemetery Street, not far north of the Matthews Avenue intersection. Town tax records list Nicholas R. and Katie D. Jose as the land-owners; access will be by an existing gravel road that crosses Raymond Alley’s property.

The area is currently forested and appears to have been harvested in the past. It will be clearcut and stumps removed and will become meadowland, Redding said.

Fixed, south-facing solar panels will be placed in rows. Redding said the bottom edges of the panels will be about six feet off the ground and the upper edges about 12 feet above ground level.

The connection to Central Maine Power Company’s grid will be at the CMP power line, between the site and the street; there will be no need for extra poles on the street. A tree buffer at least 30 feet wide will line the south, west and north sides of the solar array, making it nearly invisible to passers-by.

Instead of the more usual chainlink fence, Solar Garden will put up an eight-foot- high knotwire fence, which has wider holes and is commonly used to keep deer out of orchards. This fence lets turtles, snakes, chipmunks, mice and other small animals through. Larger holes will be made to allow raccoons and foxes as well, so the solar array will not become “a resort for smaller mammals,” Redding said.

Local fire and law enforcement personnel will have the means to get through the gate in an emergency. Redding said his company will provide training for firefighters if asked.

The meadow will be planted with native plants, including some likely to attract native pollinators like bees and moths, and mowed no more than twice a year. This kind of habitat might attract such endangered species as cottontail rabbits, ribbon snakes and Blanding’s turtles, Redding said.

McCullough’s firm is responsible for obtaining permits. He expects the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s site location permit, for which he intends to file in a few weeks, will take several months. He also has checked with state agencies that deal with natural resources, historic preservation and other relevant issues.

McCullough and Redding said it appears the solar development will have minimal impact on the local environment. During construction there will be some noise as supports are pounded into the ground. When the project is operating, Redding anticipates little noise – perhaps “a low hum” from three transformers.

The project has no buildings, uses no water, generates no sewage or waste, has no outdoor lighting and will have little traffic. A nearby snowmobile trail will not be affected. Studies of similar projects elsewhere have shown no negative impact on nearby property values and sometimes a positive impact, McCullough said.

Final documents will include a decommissioning plan and a bond to cover decommissioning costs if necessary. Redding said the panels are guaranteed for 30 years and might well last twice that long. They will be monitored and any damage – for example, from a tree limb blown down by wind – repaired.

Planning board members made sure Redding and McCullough knew what they need to include in a full application, which is likely to be presented at the March planning board meeting (normally, Tuesday evening, March 2). Codes Officer Paul Mitnik said he will provide a list of abutters who need to be notified of the application.

Redding said if all permits are in hand by the beginning of July, construction could start in August and be finished in the fall.

In other business, board members briefly discussed proposed revisions to Vassalboro’s marijuana ordinance and arranged with Vassalboro Community School Technology Director David Trask to be participants in the Jan. 7 selectmen’s meeting. The marijuana ordinance is a selectmen’s responsibility.

Planning board member Douglas Phillips said he thinks board members need to start making site visits more often before they review applications, to confirm the accuracy of information submitted.

Mitnik said he is taking advantage of a seasonal lull in permit applications to update the list of subdivisions in Vassalboro. He estimates there are at least 70, some dating from the early 1970s. Under the town ordinance, any change in a subdivision, like dividing a lot or relocating a lot line, requires planning board approval.

The next regular planning board meeting would be Tuesday evening, Feb. 2. However, Mitnik said unless he receives an unexpected application, he sees no reason to meet.

Retired Vassalboro fire chief recognized for 30 years of service

Retired Vassalboro Fire Chief Eric Rowe, left, with current fire chief Walker Thompson. (photo courtesy of Vassalboro Fire Dept. Photos taken prior to Covid-19 outbreak)

by Chief Walker Thompson

Retired Vassalboro Fire Chief Eric Rowe in his turn-out gear. (photo courtesy of Vassalboro Fire Dept. Photos taken prior to Covid-19 outbreak)

In the spring of 2020, Chief Eric Rowe, who was fire chief for 30 years, decided to retire. Eric first joined the Vassalboro Fire Depart­ment April 8, 1980, and was promoted to fire chief on February 13, 1990.

Eric has always been a true role model, leader, mentor, friend and much more throughout the past 30 years as chief. Thompson said, “we would like to congratulate and thank Eric for all that he has done for not only the department, but the community as well. You could always count on Eric to be there, no matter what time of day or night. We would not be where we are today without all that he has done and accomplished throughout the past 30 years as Chief.” Chief Rowe still remains a member of Vassalboro Fire Dept., next to his two boys, Benji and Bennie Rowe, who currently serve as captains.

This year was a tough year for most and the busiest they’ve ever been, ending the year with a total of 175 calls of service, compared to 145 in 2019.

“Vassalboro Fire will continue to strive to be the best we can,” said Thompson, “and provide quality service to our community whenever we are called upon. We are currently staffed with 29 members in the department. As always, we would again like to thank our mutual aid departments, public works department, our dispatchers at Augusta Regional Com­muni­cations Center, and all law enforcement agen­cies that continue to provide support throughout each year.

“We would also like to thank the town officials and townspeople who support us every day. Lastly, I personally would like to thank all of the men and women of Vassalboro Fire Department for their hard work and dedication to our community. These folks are the definition of true professionals.”

VASSALBORO: Approved marijuana growing locale sparks proposed ordinance changes

Selectmen to consider amendments to subdivision and marijuana ordinances

The agenda for the Thursday, Jan. 7, Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting includes discussion of two proposed ordinance amendments, sparked by a recent Planning Board approval of a marijuana growing facility adjacent to a subdivision on Sherwood Lane.

Board members, with legal advice, will consider amendments to Vassalboro’s subdivision and marijuana ordinances.

The selectmen’s virtual meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. The complete agenda and both ordinances as they now stand are on the town website.

Anyone interested in participating in the meeting should contact the town office in advance. Those who want to watch it on line should be able to via vcsvikings.org.

Thelma Bulger presented with Vassalboro’s Boston Post Cane

Thelma Bulger with the Boston Post Cane presented to her by the Vassalboro Historical Society proclaiming her the oldest resident in town. Below, right, the knob of the cane. (photo by Elizabeth Bulger Bourgoin)

Symbolic of the town’s oldest resident

Submitted by Janice Clowes

The Vassalboro Historical Society has announced the honorary ownership of the Boston Post cane to Mrs T. Lois Bulger. The tradition of the cane began in 1909, when the Boston Post distributed 431 of the canes to towns throughout New England with instructions that each should be presented to the oldest living citizen of the town.

The cane is made from Gabon ebony from the Congo. Each cane took approximately one year to make. The cane’s head is finished with a 14-carat gold top and is elaborately sculpted. Vassalboro’s cane was missing for many years, until purchased in 1988 from an antique dealer in California and given to the Historical Society by Betty Taylor, one of the Society’s founders. The honorary ownership of the cane was given to Louise Charlotte Seehagen Eastman in September, 2016. Mrs. Eastman passed away at 101 years of age in January 2020.

The new recipient, Thelma Lois Wood was born on April 24,1922, to parents Eva and Norman Wood in Oakland, Maine. Always known as Lois, she attended Oakland schools, where she met her future husband, Harold Bulger. She continued her education and completed a Special Secretarial Course at Thomas Business College. Harold and Lois were married on December 24, 1940, in Oakland.

Mr. and Mrs. Bulger moved to Vassalboro where they raised their four children, Mayella, Gregory, Linda, and Elizabeth. They also opened their own business, and ran Pine Tree Stables, Home of Fine Horses for 30 years. In 1982 the Bulgers opened Pine Tree Stables Antiques and Collectibles. Mrs. Bulger continues to run the antique business which now includes Ebay sales. Mrs. Bulger also worked for the Adjudication Division of the Veteran’s Administration at Togus as a Claims Examiner for 34 years.

Mrs. Bulger was a member of Adams Memorial Church until it closed. She taught Sunday School and was a member of the Womens’ Fellowship. She loves reading mysteries, gardening, and quilting. Her family has grown and she is the proud grammie to 10 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, and great-great grammie to four.

Mrs. Bulger received a walking stick carved by Raymond Breton, of Vassalboro, and a certificate in recognition of her status as Vassalboro’s Oldest Resident.

VASSALBORO: Two annual activities successful despite disruptions

Vassalboro Community School (contributed photo)

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro School Board members again got upbeat monthly reports from school officials at the Dec. 15 board meeting.

Vassalboro Community School Principal Megan Allen said two traditional annual activities were successful despite the disrupted year. The Giving Tree program was so well supported that five more families were helped this year than last year. And the virtual December Viking Pride Assembly recognized honor roll students and those who exemplified the Pride virtues of respect, responsibility and kindness. Remote learners were included, Allen said.

She reported that the number of students choosing to learn entirely remotely increases gradually, and services to remote learners are increasing as well.

She also said that Jobs for Maine Graduates (JMG) Master Specialist Victor Esposito and Guidance Counselor Meg Swanson organized a school-wide door decorating contest that resulted in a variety of creative additions.

Superintendent Alan Pfeiffer said the listing of a coronavirus outbreak at Vassalboro Community School during the Dec. 14 briefing by Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Nirav Shah was old news; CDC is no longer investigating.

The CDC epidemiologist who gave Pfeiffer and Allen advance notice of the public mention praised their handling of the situation and their overall policies, Pfeiffer said. He, too, offered thanks and congratulations to everyone involved, school personnel, students and parents.

School Nurse MaryAnn Fortin seconded Pfeiffer’s report. “Things are looking pretty good right now, fingers crossed,” she said.

(In his Dec. 18 report to the media, Shah said there are few if any cases of in-school transmission in Maine or nationally, and praised school personnel, students and parents for their efforts.)

Given the success so far, board members agreed to continue what they’ve been doing, including leaving winter sports canceled “out of an abundance of caution,” Pfeiffer said.

The board also approved continuing the current school schedule through February. The schedule has different groups of students alternately in the building and learning from home, and Wednesday afternoons set aside for teachers’ preparation time and extra connections with students at home.

When board member Jessica Clark asked when students could return to in-school classes full time, Allen said not until social distancing requirements are removed. She and Assistant Principal Greg Hughes are monitoring space use, looking for a chance to bring students who most need in-school work – some in special education programs, for example – into the building more often.

Pfeiffer added that the administration’s goal is to get students back into the building, but doing so safely is the priority.

Finance Director Paula Pooler said the business office that serves Vassalboro, Waterville and Winslow school departments is still extremely busy with the necessary paperwork for extra federal and state funding. But, she said, the additional aid has kept the budget in balance so far, and Vassalboro is about to add four new buses to the one acquired earlier this fall.

Board members approved appointment of Tanya Thibeau as new special education director for Vassalboro Community School (not to be shared with Winslow, as former Director Amy Benham was). Allen said Thibeau was the selection committee’s unanimous choice from four candidates, and she looks forward to having her full-time in the school.

The meeting was followed by an executive session. Afterward, Pfeiffer said he and board members agreed he will serve as superintendent for another year. He prefers one-year terms, to give the school department and himself flexibility.

The next Vassalboro School Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, January 19, 2021.

Vassalboro Community School honor roll

Vassalboro Community School (contributed photo)

HIGH HONORS

Grade 3: Aliyah Anthony, Sophia Brazier, Grace Clark, Xainte Cloutier, Twila Cloutier, Wyatt Devoe, Dekah Dumont, Mariah Estabrook, Riley Fletcher, Camden Foster, Dawson Frazer, Lucian Kinrade, Sarina LaCroix, Isaac Leonard, Arianna Muzerolle, Olivia Perry, Elliott Rafuse, Juliahna Rocque, Cassidy Rumba, Isaiah Smith, and Cameron Willett. Grade 4: Emily Clark, Keegan Clark, Basil Dillaway, Harlen Fortin, Tess Foster, Fury Frappier, Baylee Fuchswanz, Allyson Gilman, Kaitlyn Lavallee, Cheyenne Lizzotte, Elizabeth Longfellow, Mia McLean, Elliot McQuarrie, Kackenzy Monroe, Weston Pappas, Emma Robbins, Grace Tobey and Ava Wood. Grade 5: Benjamin Allen, Tristyn Brown, Dylan Dodge, Jasmine Garey, Drake Goodie, Zachary Kinrade,, Drew Lindquist, Paige Perry, Judson Smith and Reid Willett. Grade 6: Madison Burns, Ryley Desmond, Josslyn Ouellette and Taiya Rankins. Grade 7: Emily Almeida, Jacob Lavallee, Ava Lemelin, Mylee Petela and Hannah Polley. Grade 8: Sofia Derosby, Allison Dorval, Ava Kelso, and Greta Limberger.

HONORS

Grade 3: Zander Austin, Lukas Blais, Samantha Carter, Kaylee Colfer, Samantha Craig, Branson Fortin, Peter Giampietro, Aubrey Goforth, Landon Lagasse, Jade Lopez, Agatha Meyer, Addison Neagle, Bruce Sounier, and Haven Trainor. Grade 4: Mason Brewer, Ariyah Doyen, Isadora Duarte, Zoe Gaffney, Bayleigh Gorman, Jack LaPierre, Aiden McIntyre, Kalyee Moulton and Naseem Umar. Grade 5: Bentley Austin, Logan Cimino, Zoey, DeMerchant, Jennah Dumont, Ryleigh French, Cooper Lajoie, Caleb Marden, Katherine Maxwell,Brandon Neagle, Ryder Neptune-Reny, Trinity Pooler, Kayden Renna, Landon Sullivan, Leigha Sullivan, Hannah Tobey, William Trainor, Jade Travers, and Alana Wade. Grade 6: Sophie Day, Eilah Dillaway, Wyatt Ellis, Scott Fitts, Caspar Hooper, Jack Malcolm, Natalie Rancourt and Bryson Stratton. Grade 7: Quinn Coull, Mckenzie Duenne, WilliamEllsey, Madison Estabrook, Paige Littlefield, Alexandria O’Hara, Daniel Ouellette, Leahna Rocque and Addison Witham. Grade 8: Noah Bechard, Brooke Blais, Brady Desmond, Ellie Giampetruzzi, Kaylene Glidden, Brandon Hanscom, Kailynn Houle, Kaelyn Pappas, Seth Picard, Ava Picard and Emma Waterhouse.

HONORABLE MENTION

Grade 3: Chanse Hartford, and Meadow Vaney. Grade 4: Caylie Buotte, Gabriella Duarte, Jaziah Garcia, and Jaelyn Moore. Grade 5: Dominick Bickford, Lucas Cornier, and Bentley Pooler. Grade 6: Kiley Doughty, Madison Field, and Adalyn Glidden. Grade 7: Elisha Baker, Moira Bevan, Saunders Chase, Mason Decker, Leigh-Ann Gagnon, Kaiden Morin, Taylor Neptune, Lilian Piecewicz, and Leah Targett. Grade 8: Landen Blodgett, Evan Brochu, Bodi Laflamme and Alysha Opacki.

Vassalboro resident seeks to change marijuana ordinance

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro selectmen entertained three requests from residents of the Sherwood Lane subdivision at their Dec. 10 YouTube meeting, moving two forward without any final action.

Leo and Andrew Barnett have spent the fall seeking town approval to build two large buildings to lease to medical marijuana growers on land beyond the end of Sherwood Lane, the road off Riverside Drive that serves the subdivision. Residents consider the proposed commercial development inappropriate so close to, and accessed through, a residential subdivision.

The Planning Board approved the project Dec. 8 (see related story, p. )

Jessica Reed, speaking for others concerned, asked selectmen to consider three actions: amending Vassalboro’s local marijuana ordinance to limit the number of growing facilities in town; prohibiting commercial marijuana projects in subdivisions; and perhaps monitoring existing facilities.

“We never expected a situation like this,” and with town support would like to protect residents of other subdivisions from similar surprises, Reed said.

Selectmen agreed that since they developed the original marijuana ordinance, they should discuss amending it. Town Manager Mary Sabins said town attorney Kristin Collins pointed out the ordinance no longer matches revised language in state law. Selectmen asked Sabins, working with Collins and interested Sherwood Lane residents, to recommend changes.

Board Chairman John Melrose would like to see a revised draft when the selectmen meet next on Jan. 7, 2021. Sabins said she would try to have one ready by then.

Amending the subdivision ordinance should be a planning board task, selectmen agreed. They voted unanimously to ask the planning board to take it on, in cooperation with Collins and Sherwood Lane residents.

Selectmen did not discuss monitoring existing facilities.

Reed thanked selectmen for hearing residents’ concerns and sought advice on the procedure for appealing the Dec. 8 planning board decision. Sabins referred her to Codes Officer Paul Mitnik.

Sherwood Lane resident Dan Belyea commented that the Nov. 10 and Dec. 8 planning board meetings had been frustrating for residents trying to comment. It was difficult to hear what was going on at the Nov. 10 hearing, held in St. Bridget’s Center, and he was unable to connect in to the virtual Dec. 8 meeting, he said.

Following up on an earlier discussion about use of the town ballfields in East Vassalboro during a declared public health emergency, board members approved a short Covid-19 Recreation Field Closure Policy. It applies to town parks and fields, not to school recreational facilities. It says:

• Sabins is to monitor pandemic reports and may, in consultation with the recreation director and school superintendent, declare parks and fields open to unrestricted public use, open to limited public use or closed to the public. She is to notify selectmen of any action.
• Posted town policies are to coordinate with school policies “when practical.”
• If a “group or gathering” is on a town park or field posted as closed, town officials may ask local police or sheriff’s deputies to order them to leave.

Other actions selectmen took at the Dec. 10 meeting included appointing Kevin Reed to the Board of Appeals and Paul Oxley to the Trails Committee, and amending the town personnel policy to incorporate the new state Earned Paid Leave Law.

At Melrose’s suggestion, board members, Road Commissioner Eugene Field and Vassalboro Community School technology specialist David Trask discussed improving the driveway at the recreation field. Melrose had considered recommending pavement, but he and Field thought crushed stone would be adequate, and less expensive. Trask agreed crushed stone would pack down to make a good surface.

Melrose led a discussion of repairs to the Civil War statue in East Vassalboro (see The Town Line, Dec. 3, p. 1). If the town paid some of the cost, the Vassalboro Historical Society might contribute, he said. Board members will wait to see what Historical Society directors decide.

As of Dec. 10, the driveway and the statue are left for continued discussion as the 2021-2022 budget takes shape early next year.

Melrose is exploring a 250th anniversary fireworks display based on the Criminal Justice Academy grounds. Academy officials are not opposed, but want more details, he reported. Semiquincentennial anniversary expenses are likely to be another 2021-2022 budget item.

Melrose further reported that bids for work on the Gray Road culvert are due Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. He proposes reviewing them at the Jan. 7, 2021, selectmen’s meeting, which will also be via YouTube.

Vassalboro selectmen unanimously approved Town Manager Mary Sabins’ request to give all town employees a paid holiday on Dec. 24 and authorize closing town facilities at 2 p.m. on Dec. 31. The exception, of course, will be the public works crew if a snowstorm requires them to work over either or both holidays.

Sabins thanked the board for giving employees a holiday gift; they deserve it, she said.

The transfer station will be open regular hours, 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., on Saturday, Dec. 26.